Monday, April 29, 2019

Two Graces, 36 Questions

Sunday April 28, 2019 was the first day we were open at our new location in downtown Taos. 
Here are 36 questions that every shop owner should consider posing to themselves.*

Holly Sievers with visitor Alexandra Rose

1. Where are you located?
Two Graces has re-located to 105 Barela Lane just off Kit Carson Road in the Taos Historic District. 

Soon to be the most photographed front door that isn't blue in Taos.

2. Who are the shop-owners?
Co-Owners and resident artists Holly Sievers and Robert Cafazzo attend to the shop on a daily basis.

3. How do you describe your shop?
We call it a collection of Art, Books, Curios along with our own artworks we feature hard to find vintage Southwest Jewelry, Hopi Kachinas, Pueblo Pottery, hard to find, rare and out of print books of Taos, New Mexico and a wide range of books about art and artists. 

Art Supplies, Jewelry, Smudge Sticks, and drawings by Holly Sievers.

4. What motivated you to open your business?
The idea of opening a business can be exciting, thrilling, terrifying and quite unrealistic. Lots of people like the idea of being their own boss, we tend to be terrible bosses, by that I mean that we are far too hard on ourselves and too often the ‘vision’ is in our heads. The other factor, or the elephant in the room, is that there is a great lack of employment opportunities in our area.

Small Pen & Ink drawings by Robert Cafazzo along with collectibles and paintings.

5. What year was your business established?
Established in 2003, open seven days a week.

6. Why the term Art, Books and Curios when referring to your shop?
Not trying to reinvent what a gallery is in Taos, we actually began selling books and curios. In a short time period we began showing the work of local artists who were our clientele. Eventually those artists we were showing encouraged Holly & I to begin showing our own art work in our own shop. We are unlike every other shop in our neighborhood.

Earth Pigments, Vintage Bottles, Costume Jewelry

7. Did you have prior retail experience?
At 13 years old I began working in my family’s retail business, I’ve had a great deal of experience.

Drawings & Paintings by Robert Cafazzo

8. Is there a story behind the name of your business?
Two Graces pays tribute to the grandmothers and aunties of the owners. Holly’s grandmas were both named Grace, Robert had two aunts named Grace. The term the Three Graces is highly recognized, our name plays off of the idea of Faith, Hope and Charity, that we too often forget one or the other.

9. Who designed the shop?
Working closely together we spent a great deal of time looking at shops we like, what works for them, (and what does not work in our opinions). In particular we noticed 3 key design elements; great lighting, tiered displays, and an attractive store front. We have the wonderful Taos light through the windows, our displays are at various levels and our sunburst carved doorway is on the Historic Registry of New Mexico and we’ll soon have window boxes out front. The organization Taos Main Street has been proactively helping with our storefront as well. We are striving to create a beautiful inviting space, the sort of environment that will become inviting to all of Taos, locals and visitors alike.

Signage installation, thanks to Martin of Acorn Graphics

10. What are you best known for?
In my mind the artwork of Holly Sievers is the draw to the shop. Holly will tell you that it’s between the artwork of Robert Cafazzo, our southwest book selection and vintage Kachina dolls.

Santos and Religious Items, along with Note Cards & Post Cards

11. What do you specialize in?
We specialize in the history, feeling, and flavor of the Southwest around us. The choices we make of what is in the shop are carefully thought out decisions. There are times we’d prefer to keep certain items, some of which we do for a while. We live with our collections in our home, they are special to us, we become attached to them for a while and then share them in our store where we can still enjoy them until the right person comes along and has the same feeling for it as we have.

RC paintings and Kachina Dolls

12. Where do you source your products from?
We reside in Taos full time, thus we have become a part of the arts and culture here. For the new look and design we’ve selected a few local artist-craftspeople to feature. The shop has always had a selection of found objects, rusty metal, antlers and skulls to round things out as well as bundles of sage, cotta, cholla, osha and mineral pigments collected locally.

Holly Sievers Paintings & large scale Drawing, Jewelry and Micaceous Clay Pottery by Suann Davis

13. What makes your shop unique?
We constantly change things up and keep evolving. There’s always something new to see, even when it’s something we’ve been carrying for years that you may have missed the last time you visited. Everything we select for the shop is something that has its own unique restorative design and charming quality.

Collectibles Display

14. Who are your customers?
The customer base has been visitors to Taos who return time and again, we are hoping our location in the heart of Taos will attract local customers.

RC Paintings and vintage Pueblo Pottery assortment.

15. How do customers find you?
Our customer base for many years found us by chance, later social media became a key outreach, then the blog and website began attracting attention as well. The shop has had great word of mouth along with the excitement that has been created form our recent Go Fund Me campaign, our donors now have a ‘stake’ in seeing us prosper at our new location. 

Kachina Dolls

16. How has the internet impacted your business?
Internet traffic for sales picks up during the winter months, during the rest of the year people find us through the search engines.

Ephemera and Collectibles

17. Who inspires you?
The shops and their owners Santa Maria Provisions (Santa Fe), Todos Santos (Santa Fe), Isabella Sparrow (Philadelphia), Boston General (Brookline), Nomad (Cambridge), Dwellings Revisited (Taos) are unique destinations that we return to time and time again. 

18. What inspires you?
The history and stories of Taos, along with the flora and fauna of the Southwest are in large part our inspiration. 

RC Paintings and painting by Aline Porter

19. Before I was a shopkeeper, I….
After teaching art at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for 21 years I moved to Taos where I became a shopkeeper. Holly has been an office manager at Harvard Medical and for R.B. Ravens in Taos.

RC Painting through the window

20. What is the hardest lesson you learned in starting a business?
Patience. Everything takes longer than you’d expect whether it be permits or moving and getting the store open. Some days you’ll make ends meet and some days you will not.
Kristy Lawton Walden Pendant/Pins based on my Pen&Ink drawings

21. What task do you like to delegate?
Maintenance of the website, taking photographs of the merchandise, bookkeeping is all up to Holly.
Tin & Wool wrapped Ornaments by Vickery Ottaway

22. The best lesson you have learned opening a shop?
People want to see you succeed, they become a part of your family.
Saunn Davis Micaceous Clay Pottery

23. Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop?
Carry smalls, affordable items for every price range, carry postcards which people tend to purchase for souvenirs. Be open as much as you possibly can, when people find you closed it alienates shoppers they tend to not return. Post your hours on your door front and website. 

24. What is the best advice you were given before opening?
To be open with regular hours, to appeal to locals and visitors alike, that if you can repair broken items, that this in itself can become a source of income.
Retablos and Bultos 

25. How did you get to where you are now?
Again and again it is through consistent perseverance and our amazing customer base.
Skulls and Bones

26. What are some of the biggest challenges you face?
Cash flow, the business is our income without it we go straight to the poor house. We owe everything to the customers who find us, shop with us and return. Patience, a day of no income whatsoever one day may be a windfall the next day, or maybe the day after that, but hopefully sometime soon. We strive to be open as much as possible, you never know what any given day will bring.

27. Which famous person would you like to visit your shop?
We’ve had a lot of ‘famous’ people visit us through the years. I am always charmed by the ones who introduce themselves. “Hi, I’m Ali McGraw” she made my heart melt by just that type of kindness.
Book Room with D.H. Lawrence and Dennis Hopper

28. What is the community of shop-owners around you like?
The historic district is the heart of Taos.The shop-owners around us have been graciously excited and accepting of our joining their community. The neighbors have been more supportive than anyone could imagine. Before we were open one of the local gallery owners greeted us with a welcome basket, a gallery owner came by and helped us paint the walls of the space, one couple handed out our cards to everyone as they walked down the street today, a neighbor offered to let us hang an Open sign from his portale to direct traffic to our shop. Today was our first day open for business someone brought us a bouquet of flowers to welcome us to the neighborhood. People keep asking when our grand opening will be. It has taken us two weeks to get ready, moved in and put everything together. It will take us a bit longer to figure out the space and of what works. Hopefully we’ll have a few introductory openings. A press opening, an opening for the friends and neighbors and a grand opening are all possibilities, but for now we are happy to be open for everyone to come by to shop and visit us in our new space.

29. If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..?
I’d be a herder of cats, maybe I already do that(?). Holly would have loved to be an archeologist.

Book Room View, entry wall

30. What is your day like at the shop?
Much of the time between speaking with customers and friends visiting I putter around and re-assess displays in the store. When Holly is at the shop other than speaking with customers, she tends to work on bookkeeping, the website and researching the merchandise I find for the store.

Book Room View, far wall

31. What is your perfect day off?
When Holly & I can take a day off together, whether we go for a hike, visit museums or lay around all day as long as we are together that’s the perfect day.

Book Room View, left interior wall

32. Which are your five favorite shops?
In Taos our favorite shops and galleries are Dwellings Revisited, Jones Walker of Taos, Magpie, Studio 107-B, and the Tony Reyna Indian Shop among many, many others.

Book Room View, Emil Bisttram Paintings, Georgia O'Keeffe Book collection

33. Favorite neighborhood coffee shop & restaurant?
World Cup has the best coffee in the neighborhood, Manzanita Market for lunch and Parcht for dinner, Chokola for best guilty pleasure sweet.

Vintage Vinyl Record selection

34. What will you miss about no longer being located in Ranchos de Taos?
When I first arrived in Taos I saw the San Francisco de Asis Church and wanted to be by its side. Seeing one of the most photographed and painted structures in the U.S., the back of the Ranchos Church, every day for 16 years was a true luxury.

35. What is your Instagram account?
@TwoGracesTaos and @flowerchildren.3

Looking out towards Kit Carson Road

36. In your opinion what is the future of retail?
We believe people enjoy browsing, seeing and touching actual merchandise in person. If people truly want a wonderful experience, then shopping at Two Graces will provide them with a joyful feeling of familiar things and items you’ve never seen before. Two Graces provides more than just retail therapy it provides an experience, and first hand experiences are what people are looking for.

*If you as a shop-owner would like a copy of these questions to answer for yourself, please ask, I'd be happy to email them to you.